Americans Evacuated from City at Center of Coronavirus Land in Riverside

KNX 1070
January 29, 2020 - 7:27 am

(KNX 1070/CBS News) -  A plane chartered by the U.S. government to evacuate 201 Americans from the Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak landed in Southern California Wednesday morning. It was carrying diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan and other U.S. citizens. All the evacuees cleared initial health checks in China and then during a refueling stop in Alaska.

By Wednesday morning the flu-like virus had killed at least 132 people, all of them in China. Close to 6,000 others have been infected in more than a dozen countries, including five confirmed cases in the United States. More than 100 people in the U.S. were being tested for the disease across 26 states on Tuesday.

Before the flight left China there were more than 1,000 Americans stuck in Wuhan. Other countries have also begun evacuating citizens from China on chartered flights, and some major airlines were halting flights to mainland China. The Trump administration was considering a complete travel ban on China as it evaluates the best ways to stop the virus spreading.

Meanwhile, the US government is considering a temporary ban on flights to and from China because of the outbreak.

A flight ban would certainly affect thousands of travelers who fly through LAX everyday.

The virus has killed more than 100 people in China and other countries including Japan and South Korea have also evacuated their citizens.

Tips while flying 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the American public of getting the mystery bug is low.

Dr. James Cherry, with UCLA's School of Medicine, who spoke to KNX 1070 News, likens the virus to SARS and says no one ever contracted the illness from a plane.

"All the people with SARS, who were incubating it, not one of them spread it on the airplane," Cherry said.

According to Cherry, what you should be concerned about is:

"Seasonal influenza and for that, the person who is coughing isn't a risk but the person who is sneezing is the bigger risk." 

Experts say if you are flying, consider wearing a mask and wash your hands, and keep the alcohol-based sanitizer handy.

The best seats on a plane to steer clear of germs is actually a window seat or first class.